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Memphis-filmed ‘Queen Rising’ shines in opening weekend

“Queen Rising,” a Memphis-made thriller filmed and produced with mostly Memphis talent, premiered during a red-carpet event held at Malco Paradiso last Friday (Oct. 7).

Some of the cast and crew were in attendance for debut of the film created by executive producer and Memphis-based attorney Henry Reaves III.

Henry Reaves III as Madison’s father in “Queen Rising.” (Courtesy photo)

Reaves noted the opening weekend success of “Queen Rising” in Greater Memphis.

“I am thankful for everyone that helped make the Queen Rising premier weekend a success. Malco has requested an extended run and the reviews have been phenomenal,” said Reaves.

“Queen Rising” stars April Hale as a conscientious young schoolteacher, who is convinced by a charismatic writer (Xamon Glasper, who grew up in Orange Mound) to collaborate on a true-crime memoir about the series of slayings that occurred when she was a student at Bluff City University.

The fictional college is filmed at Christian Brothers University and LeMoyne-Owen College while Reaves used his own Whitehaven home as the central house featured in the film.

“For us to have the ability to put Memphis artists in a position to share their gifts with the world, that’s what it’s all about,” said Reaves.

Memphis’ own Princeton James directed the film. The multi-talented playwright, producer, director and actor wrote, directed and produced the 2017 award-winning play, “The Royal Family.” He also produces the annual interactive murder mystery event “A Soulful Mystery” that will be held on Oct. 30.

Syreeta Dodson (l) as a cheerleader and Jessie Reader as Brooke in “Queen Rising.” (Courtesy photo)

“There were a lot of Memphis creative entrepreneurs that invested their time and energy into this project,” said James. “They were excited about the end result. I was excited to bring together some talented individuals to make attorney Reaves ‘vision come to life.”

James is also involved in orchestrating workforce development training opportunities to help build a diverse creative economy in Memphis. 

“I believe in our creatives in this city. I want to contribute to the development of a viable creative economy however I can. I’m grateful to be a part of this project and I hope everyone supports it,” said James.

Pictured (l-r): Brooke Tolbert and La’Rie Dodson as students; Kenon Walker as Mr. Packer, head of security for Bluff City University, and Miguela Gary, as young Madison in “Queen Rising.” (Courtesy photo)

“Queen Rising” has helped to contribute to the growing Memphis TV and film production economy.

New Tennessee film production incentives launched in March 2022 have helped to entice more than 100 projects to the state, including Memphis-based productions “Sun Records,” “Bluff City Law,” and “Young Rock.” Current applicants for the incentives are projected to invest around $65 million and $70 million in Tennessee through payroll and nonpayroll items.

“Queen Rising” is showing in movie theaters across Memphis and the surrounding areas.

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